Wednesday, August 9, 2006

From combined dispatches

For the second time in four years, Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, Georgia Democrat, was defeated yesterday by a little-known rival in her overwhelmingly Democratic district.

Supporters chanted, “Hank, Hank, Hank,” as former DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson appeared in a hotel ballroom to claim victory.

“I’m here to serve you,” Mr. Johnson said after scoring a double-digit win over Mrs. McKinney. “I’m going to make you proud. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve you.”

With 87 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Johnson had 35,756 votes (59 percent) to Mrs. McKinney’s 24,767 votes (41 percent).

Mrs. McKinney’s outspoken liberalism had earned the six-term incumbent a national reputation, while Mr. Johnson was little known outside the majority-black district before his strong showing in the June 18 Democratic primary.

Mrs. McKinney spent five terms in Congress before being upset by Denise Majette in the 2002 Democratic primary. In 2004, Mrs. McKinney recaptured the seat when Mrs. Majette made an unsuccessful run for the Senate.

A March scuffle with a U.S. Capitol Police officer produced bad publicity for Mrs. McKinney. A grand jury in Washington declined to indict Mrs. McKinney for that incident.

Three weeks ago, Mrs. McKinney got 47 percent of the vote — against 44 percent for Mr. Johnson — in a three-way Democratic primary contest, forcing yesterday’s runoff.

Mrs. McKinney sought to rally Democrats in her district by charging that Mr. Johnson was a pawn of Republicans, whom she accused of masterminding an “ABC — Anybody But Cynthia” campaign.

In Georgia, registered voters can choose either a Democratic or Republican ballot in the primary, and they must select that same ballot in a runoff.

Earlier last night, Mr. Johnson had been hesitant to claim victory because of problems counting the vote in DeKalb County, which comprises most of the suburban district on the east side of Atlanta.

“It looks like we are in for somewhat of a long night,” Mr. Johnson told supporters shortly before 9 p.m. “Part of the vote is in, and it shows that we are doing well.”

An official for the Georgia secretary of state’s office told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that DeKalb officials were having “considerable problems” uploading computer cards containing vote totals from electronic voting machines. However, with 59 percent of DeKalb precincts reporting, Mr. Johnson had 54 percent of the county’s vote and was expected to win heavily in neighboring Gwinnett and Rockdale counties.

The McKinney campaign had complained during the day about “irregularities” in some polling places, but election officials said they had not found evidence of wrongdoing.

Mrs. McKinney has been one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, and has claimed that the administration had advance knowledge of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“I stand in stark contrast to the Republican majority, and I am proud of that,” Mrs. McKinney said during a televised debate Saturday.

In other primaries yesterday:

• In Michigan, liberal Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz lost to conservative challenger Tim Walberg, a former state lawmaker.

cIn Colorado, former congressional aide Jeff Crank and state Sen. Doug Lamborn grabbed the early lead in a bitter six-way Republican Party primary to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Joel Hefley.

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